The national commodity forecaster ABARES is tipping Northern Territory cattle station incomes will be triple the average of the last decade this year.
The turnaround is attributed to a rebound in live cattle export numbers, prices received and a high cattle turn-off rate.
ABARES’ Peter Gooday said a slight spike in debt was a result of reinvestment in farms and that NT farm income was expected to continue rising.
“In 2015/16 we’re expecting that across the Northern Territory farm cash income for beef cattle operations will average $1.2 million a farm,” he said.
“That’s compared to a ten year average of a bit over $400,000.”
The average income for operations carrying more than 10,000 head of cattle was $1.4 million, whilst the average income for those carrying less than that was just $70,000.
Mr Gooday said the stark contrast in average income was due to different station sizes and a high variability of the same.
“It doesn’t make all that much sense to compare the two,” he said.
Even though average NT station income doubled between 2013-14 and 2014-15, average debt increased over the same period by almost $150,000 to $1.4 million.
Mr Gooday said “most of the debt that’s being taken on has been to reinvest into the farm rather than to meet overdraft payments and the like”.
He added that a similar trend related to agricultural debt was being seen across Australia.
The average farm cash income of NT broadacre farms
(preliminary estimate) 2015–16
711: Alice Springs District $414,000 $614,000
712: Barkly Tablelands $2,897,000 $4,718,000
713: Victoria River District – Katherine $402,000 $705,000
714: Top End Darwin and the Gulf $199,000 $342,000
Source: ABARES Australian Agricultural and Grazing Industries Survey